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Design to Connect

May 25, 2010 12:00 PM, By Don Kreski

How to reach your audience through your website.

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4. Keep the site current. The people in the study wanted Ricke’s client to constantly feature new products, events, and industry news and highlights. “Another way to say this is that there’s nothing more deadly than a page that’s old and out of date,” Ricke says.

5. Stick to relevant graphics. The respondents said they like photos that convey relevant information, but not clip art or “glamour” shots that provide little or no information.

Another interesting finding: Some people complained specifically about irrelevant Flash animations and other scrolling graphics. They want any animated graphics to convey useful information, and they want to be able to stop scrolling graphics, click on them, and be taken to a related section of the website.

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Website Design Suggestions

Gary Ricke has summarized a number of the points from the study and posted them to the Orbis Design website. Here are some that seem especially relevant to the AV industry.

Characteristics of a model website:

  • The home page is uncluttered and product-focused
  • New products are prominently featured
  • Organization of categories is clear and consistent
  • Clear, simple keywords identify categories
  • Use of vertical dropdown menus
  • Contact information for technical assistance and product ordering that includes a telephone number
  • Minimal clicks to obtain desired information
  • Quick transition from page to page (i.e. speed)
  • Non-product information is easy to find but does not overshadow product info
  • Interactive, relevant graphics
  • Scrolling graphics can be stopped and provide access to relevant pages
  • Product pages provide effective cross-referencing.

Participant suggestions for the site:

  • Put more focus on new product information over press releases
  • Offer more information on industry innovation, best practices, and new products
  • Clever product names are not appreciated—names should be easy to remember and easy to spell, and they should contain information that identifies the product’s use and function
  • Confine graphic images to the products and use fewer esoteric or emotionally suggestive images
  • Provide contact info and literature links on all product pages
  • Keep literature current
  • Make sure menu font size is not too small
  • Provide a stronger search-engine tool that takes the user to desired pages without wading through options, articles, or unrelated items
  • Chat rooms and feedback areas do not appeal to users. (“I prefer to talk to someone personally to make sure I’m heard.”)

Some additional thoughts

Ricke also suggests that the emphasis on finding needed information supports the growing role of social media. “Your website will always be the core of your marketing program, but it’s not the only way people gather information,” he says. “You need to figure out what your audience is using to find companies like yours or products like yours, and then make sure that you’re there.”

Pay attention to what user review sites are saying about your company and manage them as much as possible. That is, if it’s possible for potential customers to find you on sites such as Yahoo Shopping, ResellerRatings, or Yelp, they will tend to rely on them. Ricke says that a friend of his recently wrote that, “The Web is morphing from a lecture hall into a coffee house,” and for that reason, he thinks these review sites will continue to grow in importance.

Don Kreski is the president of Kreski Marketing Consultants, which offers marketing services to the AV industry. You can reach him at

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